I feel bad doing this, because I really owe the blog a "real" post. But instead I'm going to direct your attention to the Writers At Cornell Blog, where I have just posted a brief interview with cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel. We talked about the fluidity of memory, the pitfalls of writing about real people, the advantages of drawing small, and how obsessive-compulsive tendencies can be brought to bear upon the making of good art.
I want to reiterate here how much I love Bechdel's book, Fun Home, and how much I admire her for writing it. If you're a fan of her long-running indie comic Dykes To Watch Out For, you're accustomed to her political acumen, distinctive drawing style, and memorable characters. But nothing in the strip really prepared me for Fun Home, which I find amazingly moving and genuine and deep. Her evocation of childhood--specifically, the childhood of an artist--is extraordinary. The book is obviously deeply personal, but it also creates a kind of universal portrait of the birth of the creative imagination, and is a must for anyone obsessed with making things.
Alison gave a fantastic reading and presentation at Cornell last night, one that included not only an emotional delivery of the book's first chapter, but a hilarious and instructive explanation of how it came to be. It speaks volumes about what kind of person Alison is that, after presenting this material many times to many audiences over the past couple of years, she was still visibly moved by it, and managed to move all of us, as well.